Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor

Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor Preview - Another Early Access gem makes its arrival

Move over Palworld, Funday Games' project is the latest Early Access title that you need to check out.

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Back at Gamescom in August, I had the chance to check out an early version of Funday Games' top-down roguelike auto-shooter, Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor. This is essentially a Deep Rock take on the concept that Vampire Survivors made immensely popular as of late, as you suit up as a dwarf and are dropped into a level to mine resources and evade and gun down hordes of bugs that chase you around the level. It's a game where the core mechanics can be simplified to one important input, using an analogue stick (if you're playing with a controller), as everything in this game is done automatically, leaving you with just the task of making the key decisions that will ensure you survive each wave of hostile bugs. It's the epitome of simplicity but it works like a charm and is effortlessly entertaining.


As this is an Early Access launch right now there are only three levels to explore; Crystalline Caverns, Magma Core, and Hollow Bough. Each is visually very different and has a few mechanics that set them apart from the rest. For example, Magma Core has floor tiles that cause burn damage when you step on them, while Hollow Bough has biological obstacles and regenerating vines that get in your way as you move around. None of this changes the core idea of the game however, you're still tasked with mining as many useful resources as possible, gunning down bugs, and earning experience to improve your gear all in the hope of reaching the lowest floor of the dungeon to take on and hopefully overcome the main boss that lurks there to complete the dive.

The progression systems come in two forms. There are the non-permanent elements that are apparent in each dive. Essentially, everything you do rewards a bit of experience, and each time you level-up you will get to select an upgrade that will either unlock a new weapon for your Dwarf, or will upgrade/improve an existing weapon or attribute, be it increasing damage, higher fire rate, lower reload time, larger item/XP pickup radius, more armour or health, you get the point. When you die or complete a dive, these improvements do not come with you, they are lost forever in true roguelike fashion, but thankfully many of the resources you gather do. You can use collected gold and a variety of other kooky resources to permanently improve health, damage, critical hit chance, movement speed, and so forth, all by a percentage, and likewise for each major challenge you complete related to a dive, you'll earn a token that goes toward unlocking a harder dive or even a new Dwarf class or class archetype entirely.

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It's all very simple to digest and this translates to the gameplay too, as while there are multiple types of bug enemies to face - many of which have unique attacks and systems, and a slew of weapon types that each do different things and even open the door to elemental damage systems - the main premise of this game is to run around and avoid taking hits. This seems straightforward in practice, but when the game overloads your screen with hundreds, perhaps even thousands of bugs at once, it's easy to slip up and quickly get punished for your actions. You need to be quick thinking and constantly use your mining skills to break through walls to escape the threats of bug swarms and the devastating bosses, all while making an effort to mine any resources you come across and to complete side objectives for an influx of gold.

The brilliance of Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor is how the simple premise is endlessly fun. The core routine of gameplay is more than enough to drive hours and hours of action, and the varying levels of difficulty and the different Dwarf classes that each work slightly differently to the other add plenty of welcome depth - which no doubt will continue in the future as more and more content is added to bolster the experience. Yet even as it is, it's a thoroughly great experience to play, one that I really, really wish I could run on a Nintendo Switch to play while slouching on a sofa. Considering some Early Access projects feel very incomplete at debut, almost begging the question why they're allowed to slap a price tag on them, this game is a brilliant concept and one that you should stop what you're doing right now to pick up a copy on Steam since it'll only set you back £10.

In my last preview of this game from August 2023, I said that Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor would become my next obsession. Well, that's precisely what it has become.

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